Plastic made of potato starch is a promising material for packaging, which is a big new application for starch plastics. This is shown in Åsa Rindlav-Westling’s doctoral dissertation, which was carried out in Paul Gatenholm’s research team in polymer technology at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden.
Our huge quantities of refuse could be reduced and a greater proportion than today could be composted. Combustion of materials from oil, such as conventional plastics and fossil fuels, raise levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, increasing the risk of the greenhouse effect and environmental problems. Starch polymers, extracted from potatoes, corn, and wheat, for instance, can be used as raw materials for biologically degradable plastics. Today the EU has a surplus of agricultural products, and a certain share could be used as raw materials in the production of plastics. At present disposable eating utensils and packaging chips are made from starch. A major new field of use for plastic films made of starch could be packaging. Starch films have excellent oxygen-barrier properties and in some cases can replace aluminium when it comes to protecting oxygen-sensitive foods.
Potato starch is produced from carbon dioxide and water with the help of energy from the sun when potatoes grow. Åsa Rindlav-Westling’s doctoral work deals with plastic films made from potato starch. Her work has involved studying starch-film structure, which affects its properties. By varying the conditions under which the film is produced, she has been able to control the structure. Slow formation of film results in starches that exhibit well-ordered films, and crystallinity is high. Film properties like strength and elasticity are affected by crystallinity.
Jorun Fahle | alphagalileo
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Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
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Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
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